Edge computing will signal a move from what is traditionally understood to be the cloud – but what exactly is it, what’s it good for, and who are the main players?

Edge computing has provided an impressive alternative over these past few years within the technology landscape, and seems to be proving that it has the potential to dramatically alter the manner in which information is made and processed.
 
Here, we take a brief look at what edge computing actually is and why it may prove crucial for the future when moving away from the cloud.
 
Edge computing – what is it?
 
Edge computing is a “mesh network of micro data centres that process or store critical records locally and push all received records to a central data centre or cloud storage repository, in a footprint of less than 100 square feet,” according to research firm IDC.
 
Rather than sending all data collected by Internet of things (IoT) sensors directly to the cloud, edge computing processes this data within the network, and only relevant data, or information data conveniently bundled, is sent; reducing latency issues.
 
What is edge computing good for?
 
Cloud computing has revolutionised how people store and use their data. However, there are some areas where the cloud is limited. Latency, bandwidth, security, and a lack of offline access can be problematic.
 
To solve this problem, users need strong, secure and intelligent on-premise infrastructure for edge computing. When data is physically located closer to the users who connect to it, information can be shared quickly, securely, and without latency. Public services such as finance, healthcare and retail, all require low levels of latency. This is due in most part because low levels of latency are vital for a great customer digital experience. For this reason, it is becoming debatable whether edge computing can even displace the cloud with its robust solutions.

This may be due to the fact how IoT demands and cloud limitations are changing the requirements of edge computing, making the distributed IT and on-premise infrastructure your central repository for the connected world.

Its importance in the cloud computing market is becoming eminent as we know it.

Who are the main players?
 
At present, the edge computing market landscape consists of players from the public cloud (Microsoft, IBM, Google and Amazon), as well as networking companies, independent software vendors (KPMG) and industrial automation companies (Siemens). Each of these segments tackles edge computing differently.
 
Microsoft for instance, positions itself as the leading company in edge computing. They have specifically launched Azure IoT Edge, “a dynamic software platform that delivers cloud services to edge devices, making hybrid cloud and edge IoT solutions a reality”.
 
This is said to have had a mostly positive impact on the cloud computing market since its inception. Using Azure IoT’s existing infrastructure, dozens of Microsoft partners are already at work creating transformative experiences for their customers. Microsoft has also spoken briefly about the importance of edge computing for their associates, Ecolab, who are tapping into the Azure IoT to help industries worldwide to find solutions to the problem of water scarcity: “Our goal with Azure IoT Edge is to further expand these existing cloud capabilities by enabling partners to extend cloud intelligence to edge devices”.
 
In another instance, Siemens Industrial Edge also utilises perfectly the concept of edge computing to “apply the intelligence and scalability of the cloud directly in your manufacturing systems”. This has allowed the corporation to “combine local and high-performance data processing directly within their automation system with the benefits offered by the cloud: app-based data analysis, data processing and infrastructure-as-a-service concepts with a centralised update function”.
 
It is becoming apparent that edge computing is a technology that is growing in interest by the year.
 
According to a study from IDC, “45 percent of all data created by IoT devices will be stored, processed, analysed and acted upon close to or at the edge of a network by 2020.”

As the amount of data we produce is ever increasing annually, so is the demand for edge computing technologies, enabling such secure and effective data transmissions.

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